What I Don't Tell Most People About Life With Type 1 Diabetes
I’ve lived with type 1 diabetes for over 10 years. I did not get diabetes because I ate too much sugar or because I should have exercised more. We could have a debate about the role that genetics and the environment had leading up to my diagnosis, but as of now I have yet to read something from a peer-reviewed journal about how to prevent type 1 diabetes.
I have type 1 diabetes because essentially the cells in my body attacked themselves. I find this fact incredibly frustrating on the days when depression and anxiety tell me I am difficult to love, no, impossible to love. I feel that one day, my body decided that it didn’t love a part of me. After all, it destroyed part of itself because it recognized it as foreign, not belonging to my DNA.
Some days I am consumed by anger. Anger that my body didn’t entirely love itself. Anger that I never have a day off. Anger that I feel this way.
When I was diagnosed with my second autoimmune disease I felt as though my body rejected another part of me. It felt like my body was punishing me. It was as though it was lashing out because I freely offer up my love to those around me, without offering the same to myself.
I don’t tell many people this because they wouldn’t understand how being diagnosed with an autoimmune disease can feel like validation to anxiety and depression. I fear that they would tell me that I was being irrational and remind me that my autoimmune diseases aren’t about love.
But they aren’t there on the days when I feel an insurmountable frustration.
They aren’t there when I feel this frustration intensify as my blood sugar goes low and refuses to come up to a normal level. On those days, my brain is starting to lose its fuel and I feel like I am dying, because I am.
I feel this frustration in the middle of the night when I wake up and prick my finger to check my blood sugar because that might be why I woke up. I feel this frustration on the days when I can barely get out of bed, but I have to because I left my meter, the device I use to check my blood sugar, on my dining room
I feel this frustration when someone tells me that it could be worse, I could have “such and such disease.” Because I know that it could be worse, but that doesn’t make my disease any less. It doesn’t mean that myself, and other type 1 diabetics, don’t struggle to stay afloat. It doesn’t mean that I can’t be frustrated with the fact that I have not had a day off in over 10 years. It doesn’t mean that I don’t worry about how much insulin I am taking, because too much or too little can be incredibly dangerous.
I feel this frustration when someone tells me that they wouldn’t be able to do it. When they tell me that they wouldn’t be able to give themselves injections or deal with the blood. Because I don’t have a choice if I want to stay in this world. I feel this frustration when someone tells me that “it must not hurt” when I put in a new insulin pump site or prick my finger because I’m “used to it.”
I feel this frustration when people make jokes about sugary drinks being diabetes in a cup, or that donuts are sweeter than diabetes. Because diabetes is so much more than anything you could ever fit into a cup. It is not sweet. It is scary at times, it is dangerous, it is consuming, and it is draining.
All I want is for you to try to understand how it can sometimes feel as though the atoms that make me sometimes make me want to spontaneously combust. And how sometimes, I need help wrapping words of comfort around myself.
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